This article describes shingle or slate type roofing materials made of rubber, usually recycled rubber tires, possibly using granulated or crumb rubber or in some (older) products, actual pieces of recycled rubber tires. We discsuss rubber shingle choices, rubber shingle, slate, or shake sources, rubber slate installations, inspection of rubber shake or slate roofs, defects in those roofs, rubber shingle roofing repairs, and rubber slate product warranties.
Page top image of composite wood-plastic shingles, source U.S.FPL. Photos of rubber roof shingles & slates and field reports are wanted - use the page top or bottom CONTACT link.
Rubber roof shingles or slate or wood shake look-alikes made from recycled rubber are available from a number of roofing product manufacturers and according to some roofing industry sources may have a significant impact on the roofing industry. Rubber roofing products are also used in green roof systems as a roof surface covering over which soil and plants may be added in green roof designs. Typical rubber shingle or slate roof manufacturer's warranty periods extend for 30 years, some as much as 50 years.
But will a rubber based roof slate or shingle endure for that anticipated life expectancy? As the question and reply below illustrate, the actual field performance of rubber slates or shingles does not yet (in 2016) have decades of installed field experience from which we may draw conclusions, and there may be some hints that more about rubber shingle life, durability, and defects remains to be learned.
Question: Bowing, fish-mouthing rubber roof slates on an 8-year-old home
2016/06/11 Brian Koepf ASHI #229 said:
I inspected an 8 year old simulated slate rubber roof yesterday on a huge house that are discolored in areas where they fish mouthed/bowing. I cannot find info on the web about this. Does anyone have experience with this condition? I recommended that the manufacturer be consulted regarding their warranty, and that a licensed roofer who is qualified to to install this product be contacted.
This question was posted originally at PLASTIC ROOFING TYPES. Mr. Koepf is an ASHI-certified home inspector in Leesburgh, VA. - Ed.
Reply: research on field performance, inspection, life & defects in rubber roof slates & shingles is in process, contributions & comments invited
Thanks for the question, Brian. I was surprised to hear a report of actual fishmouthing on rubber-based simulated slate as I think of that material as not so likely to be affected by moisture from below - the common cause of fishmouthing on asphalt roofing shingles.
A first look through home inspector forum chats about rubber shingles finds many opinions and what sounds like some confusion about what rubber roof slates and shakes are and how they might preform. Doing a little research on "rubber-based roof slate" materials I found a paucity of information reporting types and causes of roof failures but some references to these possible worries with rubber-formlated roof slates, shakes, or shingles:
Moisture retention in some formlations - this might contribute to later curling, buckling, or fishmouthing in any roofing product
Curling or buckling properties of shingles, slates, or shakes made from recycled rubber due to the product having a "memory" that might make cupping or curling that happened in storage or prior to or even during installation recur later. Think: shingle made from a piece of recycled tire, or shingles made from ground rubber fabricated into a new product whose shingle bundle was improperly-stored or left lying across a ridge for a time.
Possible environmental effects of chemicals in the runoff from these roofs - though certainly not unique as those issues occur with other roofing products as well including EPDM, metal, and asphalt roofing
We don't know exactly what roofing product is installed on the 8-year old home you inspected - let me know if you can find out what product (brand, model, color) was installed, and where the home is located. Photos would be very helpful as well - use the page top or bottom CONTACT link to send me what you can.
I have read that crumb rubber used in roof products including both "slate" products and green roofing substrates can contribute a porous and even water-retention property that may be involved in what you saw. We need to know more about what's installed. Here are some research papers that may be helpful.
Egodage, Shantha Maduwage, John F. Harper, and Shantha Walpalage. "Ground Tyre Rubber/Waste Polypropylene Blends—Effect of Composition on Mechanical Properties." Progress in rubber, plastics and recycling technology 25, no. 4 (2009): 213.
Gaggino, Rosana, María Josefina Positieri, Patricia Irico, Jerónimo Kreiker, Ricardo Arguello, and María Paz Amono Sánchez. "Ecological Roofing Tiles Made with Rubber and Plastic Wastes." In Advanced Materials Research, vol. 844, pp. 458-461. 2014.
Rubber-based roof shingles that resemble slate or wood shingles have been marketed by several companies for a while now and are promoted as durable, green (as they recycle materials), and perhaps more hail damage-resistant than some other roofing products. I've had poor success so far finding scholarly reports of types of damage that are peculiar to rubber-based roofing slates or shingles. We never give up however.
The roofing industry companies who produce rubber-based roof shingles or slates say water absorption is low (according to some sources I read).
In reviewing the product literature for synthetic roofing slates, shakes, or shingles it can be difficult to find an actual description of the shingle ingredients at some manufacturers' websites where some products may say just "made of 95% recycled materials".
Interestingly, Enviroshake® roofing is "... made with 95 per cent reclaimed products, including post-industrial plastics, recycled rubber elastomers and cellulose fibres." [citation below]. It's that last ingredient, "cellulose fibres" that might make trouble in some roofing products, as it certainly did in earlier roof and siding materials.
Cellulose fibers may be an important factor in more recent complaints about shrinkage, gaps, and possibly buckling in newer fiber-cement siding products that we hoped would not suffer similarly.
See SIDING, FIBER CEMENT GAPS if you can stand reading more about those problems.
Rubber based synthetic slate & shake product reviews
Miller, Stephani, "Exterior Products Review: Synthetic Roofing, Natural Impressions: Durability and realistic looks make synthetic roofing an attractive alternative to lsate and wood shakes", Architect Magazine, 10 Sept 2009, retrieved 2016/06/11, original source: www.architectmagazine.com/technology/products/exterior-products-review-synthetic-roofing_o
Synthetic slate and shake products are manufactured from a variety of materials, primarily polymers and/or rubber along with fillers and modifiers. Although the products seem very similar, formulations vary among manufacturers.
"There are so many plastic or rubber compounds that can be utilized that to say they're all the same couldn't be farther from the truth," points out Brian Eberle, vice president of marketing and sales for Wellington Polymer Technologies, maker of Enviroshake.
The polymeric composition of most synthetic shingles and shakes generally includes advanced UV inhibitors and impact modifiers. Some products incorporate ingredients such as recycled rubber or plastic, mineral dust, or cellulose fibers, while others use virgin rubber and plastic.
The majority of the synthetic slates and shakes are backed by 50-year warranties. Most are UL-certified for Class 4 impact resistance, and many, but not all, also achieve a Class A fire resistance rating. Furthermore, some are rated to resist uplift in high winds.
This reviewer makes an important point: there is a wide range of formulations and ingredients in rubber-based roof shingle/slate lookalikes.
Rubber Shingle or Slate Field Performance, Installation, Inspection or Life Expectancy Concerns
Some suggestions in online forums for roofing contractors include comments that might point to an explanation for the fishmouthing that observed by Mr. Koepf.
Researching some roofer forums such as I have found some chatter about excessive water absorption of some rubber roof shingle products.
Excerpts: [Note that the following are opinions, not scholarly research - Ed.]
We install Euroshield on a regular basis. They are based here in Calgary, and manufacture their product from recycled tires. If I had a choice, this would go on my roof. Having said that, there are small details and issues it helps to be aware of (with regards to installation), as they are still a relatively new company in the market, and have yet to work out all the kinks. - Mr. Roofer, Calgary Alberta
I watched a roofer put some on a local restaurant 5 or 6 years ago. Looks great, however there are obvious patches since then and there is a hip that is missing quite a few and others lifted up ready to be blown off. - ronbryanroofing
Look to see jobs from at least 10 years ago. ... Generaly they do not seem to last. - Red_Cedar
Looks like siding on a roof once it's up. Not only that, unlike siding that has a lip to interlock it, there is nothing to prevent it from curling
(which is what I've seen happened and which I predicted as a matter of common sense). I haven't seen one simulated slate roof installed that has looked or performed as advertised. However, I must say that DaVinci is the best out there ... - 2ndGen
I saw the rubber slate for sale in the suppliers the other day, I must admit it looked good but the price was very off putting as it was nearly the same as a real slate! ... the supplier said it was really aimed at the diy market for porches and lean tos rather than main roofs. - expertroofer
... the installation is generally no different than ashphalt shingles and may even be quicker due to the size of the tiles. He explained that the product was made almost entirely out of used tires. More info can be found on their site here: http://www.euroshieldroofing.com/ If my memory serves, it goes for about $350/sq. - Bhodhisativa
- sources for the above opinions: RoofingTalk.com forum on Synthetic/Rubber Slate roofing, retrieved 2016/06/11, original source: www.roofingtalk.com/f2/synthetic-rubber-slate-roofing-631/
That opinion is consistent with what we read in some of the research about using crumb rubber based roofing substrate beneath "green" roofs - roofs on top of which soil and plants are added. There one finds discussions there about both the effects of crumb rubber based roof material water absorption (and its effect on soil and plants above) and also on zinc leaching from those products and the effects of zinc.
Ristvey, Andrew G., Lorelly Solano, Kimberly Wharton, Steven M. Cohan, and John D. Lea-Cox. "Effects of crumb rubber amendments on the porosity, water holding capacity and bulk density of three green roof substrates." In Proceedings of the 2010 International Low Impact Development Conference, April, pp. 11-14. 2010.
Solano Torres, Sonia Lorelly. "Investigating crumb rubber amendments for extensive green roof substrates." PhD diss., 2010.
The question raised by Mr. Keopf about the causes of buckling or fishmouthing observed in rubber-based roof slates may point to a significant development in the field performance of rubber-based roofing slates or shingles.
Defective U.S. Century Flex Shakes rubber roof shingle complaints & a company that has vanished
Question: Badly Deteriorated U S Century Flex Shake Roof
(Jan 8, 2016) casey said:
I have a home with U S century flex shakes (50 year warranty) and they are completely deteriorated....the company no longer exists...what do I do?
Reply: the disappearance of U.S. Century LLC & its TruSlate roofs
Casey, not to be glib, it's time to re-roof. U.S. Century made a slate look-alike roofing product using recycled steel-reinforced rubber (recycled tires) with a stone coating (crushed slate) - U.S. Century Flex-Shake. Flex-Shake and U.S. Century LLC have for all practical purposes, disappeared from the roofing horizong.
Contact\US Century, L.L.C.
1100 NE Loop 410 #617
San Antonio, TX 78209
Watch out: this company and its website have disappeared as of 2016/06/11.
Website: www.truslate.com [listed by sources providing corporate location and information such as AECDaily]
Notice: as of 2016/06/11, the truslate.com link delivers the reader to a GAF TruSlate® web page.
Website http://www.flexshake.com/ now delivers the reader to a page offering this website name for sale. It was previously associated with US Century LLC Flex-Shake roofing. An architect's low-content website described FlexShake as "a shingle made from recycled tires, with the treads buffed off."
Other sources called it a "reinforced rubber shake" made from the steel belts of discarded tires. The product name also appears in Australian building sources.
Century Roofing continues in business in the U.K. but that's not going to help with a U.S. roof claim.
Let us know what you're told. Also I'd like to see some sharp photos of the roofing - please use our email found at the page top or bottom CONTACT link.
More research on Flex Shake rubber roofing shingles:
Kiik, Matti, Michael Bryson, and Margie Beerer. "Metal flake-surfaced roofing materials." U.S. Patent Application 10/274,717, filed October 21, 2002.
Excerpt: Flex Shake™ (US Century, California) is a roofing product made from used tires (recycled steel reinforced rubber). An adhesive coating is applied to the surface of the rubber for the application of slate chips or colored roofing granules. In accordance with the present invention, metal flakes may be correspondingly applied to the surface of the rubber using an adhesive coating.
Leitch, Olan T., John G. Freshwater, and Matti Kiik. "Colored metal flake surfaced roofing materials." U.S. Patent 8,197,893, issued June 12, 2012.
Rubber Roof Shingle Research
In addition to citations given earlier, these references include patent disclosures that illustrate some of the history, dates, & properties of roof shingles or shakes made from recycled rubber materials.
Blalock, Christopher, and Larry Nelson. "Products useful as roof shingles and a process for making such products." U.S. Patent 6,194,519, issued February 27, 2001.
Crivelli, Henry A. "Incorporation of rubber tire crumbs and siliceous crystalline grains in construction products." U.S. Patent 5,258,222, issued November 2, 1993.
Excerpt: A rubber tire recycling process comprises the steps of granulating rubber tires to form coarse rubber crumbs, mixing the coarse rubber crumbs with coarse siliceous grains to form a closely packed mixture of coarse particles that are roughly commensurate in size, thoroughly wetting the surfaces of the coarse particles with a polymerizable liquid binder to provide a viscous slurry, casting the slurry into a sheet-like configuration, and curing the sheet-like configuration under sufficient heat and for a sufficient time to provide an environmentally compatible sheet-like product, e.g. a paver or tile for driveways, or a shingle for roof tops, that is characterized by excellent weather, wear and chemical resistance. The surface characteristics of the coarse particles of vulcanized rubber and crystalline grains are critical to the present invention.
Lanphier, Robert R. "Method of making recycled tire roof sheeting." U.S. Patent 5,527,409, issued June 18, 1996.
Thiis-Evensen, Eyvind M. "Roofing shingle." U.S. Patent 4,317,853, issued March 2, 1982.
Votte, Andre T. "Synthetic roofing elements of the slate type and a method of manufacturing same." U.S. Patent 4,307,552, issued December 29, 1981.
Winters, Nancy, Graunke, Kyle, "Roofing Materials Assessment-Investigation of Toxic Chemicals in Roof Runoff." [PDF] Department of Ecology, State of Washington, Publication No. 14-03-003(2014).
Excerpts: ... little evaluation has been conducted of the newer, synthetic materials such as ethylene
propylene diene monomer (EPDM or rubber roofing), thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), or
flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These types of roofs may also be expected to release
phthalates into roof runoff.
Sources of Rubber-based Roofing Slates & Shingles
Ecostar, Designer Series Slate™, Majestic Slate™, Empire Slate™, EcoStar LLC., 42 Edgewood Dr., Holland, NY 14080, Tel: 800-211-7170, Website: http://www.ecostarllc.com/
Product literature excerpt from EcoStar's Majestic Slate product description [PDF]: EcoStar LLC, the leading
manufacturer of premium synthetic steep-slope roofing products, combines
classic appeal with modern technology to offer the lightweight and affordable
alternative – Majestic Slate™.
Created with recycled rubber and plastics, Majestic Slate offers a sustainable,
lighter and easy-to-install roofing product that provides the appearance
of natural slate with lower application costs.
Enviroshake® Tel: 1-866-423-3302, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.enviroshake.com/
Excerpts: Enviroshake® and Enviroshingle® are both composite roofing products that are designed to authentically replicate the look of natural weathered cedar roofing materials. Enviroslate® is a composite roofing product that is designed to authentically replicate the look of natural slate roofing. Predominantly all of the materials (95%) used in Enviroslate® are reclaimed materials.
... That is because Enviroshake(R) is made with 95 per cent reclaimed products, including post-industrial plastics, recycled rubber elastomers and cellulose fibres. - http://www.enviroshake.com/enviroshake-puts-a-high-tech-and-hard-wearing-twist-on-cedar-shingles/
EuroSlate Product Description [PDF]
Product description excerpt: EuroLite Slate®, EuroSlate®, EuroLite Shake® and EuroShake® are Eco Friendly Green Roofing products made from up to 95% recycled materials, the primary ingredient being rubber from recycled tires. A unique manufacturing process incorporating strict quality control methods results in a superior roofing product with durability characteristics unsurpassed in the industry. As you might expect with a roof made of rubber, impact damage, such as one would expect from large hail, is of no concern to those who own a Euroshield® roof. It simply bounces off.
EuroSlate® comes in 3 foot wide panels which lock down at the butt edge to the course of EuroSlate® below and fit into each other as you work your way across the roof, assuring a secure, weatherproof layer of protection against the elements. EuroSlate® installation is also fast and easy. Any scrap materials generated from the installation can be returned and recycled to produce more Euroslate® roofing materials. - retrieved2016/06/11, original source: http://www.euroshieldroofing.com/products/euroslate/
Product description excerpt: EuroLite Slate® comes in 40″ wide panels, each featuring 4 slate-like sections measuring 10″ wide by 7 5/8″ high, in a “modified open keyway” design to replicate the depth and character of individual slate pieces. Eurolite Slate® installation is fast and easy. The panels handle and install much like an asphalt shingle, held in place with 10 standard roofing nails and an adhesive strip on the underside to bond the panel above to the course below. The panels feature a unique raised nib strip on the reverse side that sets the correct exposure as you install, further simplifying the process. The panels can be cut with a utility blade and each covers more surface area than a standard shingle. Less pieces to handle equals faster install. Any scrap materials generated from the installation can be returned and recycled to produce more Eurolite Slate®. - retrieved 2016/06/11, original source: http://www.euroshieldroofing.com/products/eurolite-slate/
Readers are invited to CONTACT us with field reports, photographs, or research concering the life, performance, inspection, & defects of rubber roofing slates & shingles.
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"Mira Vista", Birka White Law Firm, The Danville Hotel,
411 Hartz Avenue, Suite 200
Danville, CA 94526 (866) 474-9999 or email: email@example.com. Web Search 07/12/2010 original source http://www.birka-white.com/cases/MiraVista_000.php
"Choosing Roofing," Jefferson Kolle, January 1995, No. 92, Fine Homebuilding, Taunton Press, 63 S. Main St., PO Box 5506, Newton CT 06470 - 800-888-8286 - see http://www.taunton.com/FineHomebuilding/ for the magazine's website and for subscription information.
Problems in Roofing Design, B. Harrison McCampbell, Butterworth Heineman, 1991 ISBN 0-7506-9162-X (available used)
Thanks to reader Brian Alden Pierson for discussing Plastic Roofing products May 2010
"Close-Up on Alternantive Roofing, New Materials Make Durable Shingles", Chris Marshall, Handy Magazine, March/April 2002 p. 26-32 - original source: Web-Search 07/12/2010 http://namgnewsletter.com/dy/ROOFING.pdf
Owens Corning Corporation, One Owens Corning Parkway
Toledo, Ohio 43659
Telephone: (419) 248-8000
Fax: (419) 248-5337
http://www.owenscorning.com Owens Corning is credited as the inventor of fiberglass when Owens Illinois [O-I] researcher Dale Kleist and his colleague John Thomas stumbled onto and then realized the significance of producing glass fibers in 1932. O-I formed a joint venture with the Corning Glass Works in 1935, leading to the formation of Owens Corning Corporation in 1938. More on Owens Corning's history is at
Focus, Toledo, Ohio, Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation, October 1988.
"A History of Innovation," http://www.owenscorning.com, 1997.
Stewart, Thomas A., "Owens-Corning: Back from the Dead," Fortune, May 26, 1997.
International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 20. St. James Press, 1998.
"Two-Year Wisconsin Thermal Loads for Roof Assemblies and Wood, Wood–Plastic Composite, and Fiberglass Shingles [on file as Roof_Thermal_Loads.pdf] - ",
Jerrold E. Winandy
Cherilyn A. Hatfield, US Department of Agriculture, US Forest Products Laboratory, Research Note FPL-RN-0301
List of Producers Alternative roof products using composite, plastic, vinyl, polymer-based, metal, or other roof shingle, tile, or slate or wood look-alike materials
Atas International (metal roofing)
Allentown, PA; 877-286-3320 www.atas.com
Crowe Building Products (Authentic Roof)
South El Monte, CA; 800-826-7813
Green Roof Plants: A Resource and Planting Guide, Edmund C. Snodgrass, Lucie L. Snodgrass, Timber Press, Incorporated, 2006, ISBN-10: 0881927872, ISBN-13: 978-0881927870. The text covers moisture needs, heat tolerance, hardiness, bloom color, foliage characteristics, and height of 350 species and cultivars.
Green Roof Construction and Maintenance, Kelley Luckett, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2009, ISBN-10: 007160880X, ISBN-13: 978-0071608800, quoting: Key questions to ask at each stage of the green building process Tested tips and techniques for successful structural design
Construction methods for new and existing buildings
Information on insulation, drainage, detailing, irrigation, and plant selection
Details on optimal soil formulation
Illustrations featuring various stages of construction
Best practices for green roof maintenance
A survey of environmental benefits, including evapo-transpiration, storm-water management, habitat restoration, and improvement of air quality
Tips on the LEED design and certification process
Considerations for assessing return on investment
Color photographs of successfully installed green roofs
Useful checklists, tables, and charts
Roofing The Right Way, Steven Bolt, McGraw-Hill Professional; 3rd Ed (1996), ISBN-10: 0070066507, ISBN-13: 978-0070066502
Slate Roofs, National Slate Association, 1926, reprinted 1977
by Vermont Structural Slate Co., Inc., Fair Haven, VT 05743, 802-265-4933/34. (We recommend this book if you can find it. It
has gone in and out of print on occasion.)
The Slate Roof Bible, Joseph Jenkins, www.jenkinsslate.com,
143 Forest Lane, PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127 - 866-641-7141 (We recommend this book).
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
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TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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